Quantum of Solace

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     Daniel Craig is the 6th James Bond. He's getting a bit like Dr. Who. How many metamorphoses does Bond get? We are now into the multiverse Bond, since we have gone back and started over. M is still around and Judi Dench is into her 6th film in that role, covering four with Pierce Brosnan and now two with Craig. Jeffrey Wright is the 8th actor, including Jack Lord and David Hedison, to play CIA man, Felix Leiter, in the 22 Bond films. He's made it through two films so far without getting thrown to the sharks. Some characters like Moneypenny and Q seem to have been lost in the reboot. But, thankfully, Bond girls are forever. And so are their names. This time her name is "Strawberry Fields."

     Marc Forster, the director of Quantum of Solace, has a very varied resume including Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction, and The Kite Runner. And, the screen writer, Paul Haggis, is very varied also, with Million Dollar Baby, Crash, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima and In the Valley of Elah under his belt as well as the first edition of the new Bond films, Casino Royale. Daniel Craig is very refreshing in the title role, and he is re-energizing the franchise almost singlehandedly. Judi Dench is fabulous as M. I think she was born to play this role. Dench and Craig have a nice chemistry too. They should end up in bed some day. That would be a great subplot! The Bond girls are good, particularly Olga Kurylenko, who is almost as cranky as Bond. Gemma Arterton gets to play the traditional Bond girl with the funny name (Strawberry Fields), who sleeps with Bond, and then ends up dead in some ghastly manner. Jeffrey Wright gets much too little screen time as Felix the CIA guy. I hope he has a bigger role next time. The super-villain (Mathieu Amalric) this time is supposedly a billionaire dedicated to saving the planet but who is actually raping the planet. He belongs to a super-secret organization, the successor to SMERSH. Amalric plays the usual super-dweeb bad guy that Bond films love. He was the paralyzed guy in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

     As I was watching the climax of Quantum of Solace, I thought the location looked an awful lot like the ESO VLT Observatory in Chile. I was right. All the desert stuff was shot there. The telescopes survive but they blow up everything else. I was there a year ago. See my photo below left of the hotel at the observatory, and the poster for Quantum of Solace below right with the smoke rising from the destroyed hotel in the background. Actually, this is not the first James Bond film to stage its final climax at an astronomical observatory. The final scenes of Goldeneye take place at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

     This movie is a lot like Bond himself, coldly efficient. The director seems to have spent his time watching the Bourne series because, the action sequences are extremely frenetic with very fast cuts. Quantum of Solace starts with an entertaining chase scene although not as good as the one at the beginning of Casino Royale. The action never really slows down as Bond bounces from one exotic locale to another as usual. He is really cranky after losing his girlfriend at the end of last movie. And M gets pretty cranky too, since Bond keeps killing all the suspects, and after barely avoiding getting killed herself when her bodyguard turns out to be one of the baddies. On the whole, even though there isn't much touchy-feely stuff, that isn't really what we are there for. We are there for Bond, James Bond. And that's what we get and lots of it. It's well worth seeing.